Republican Party Continues Challenge To Raimondo Fundraising Deal

Mar 13, 2018

Rhode Island's Republican Party renewed questions Monday about a fundraising agreement between Gina Raimondo and the Providence City Democratic Committee, requesting an advisory opinion from the state Board of Elections.

The GOP described the agreement as a way to get around legal limits to individual campaign donations.

RI Gov. Gina Raimondo entering the House Chamber before the 2018 State of the State address in January.
Credit Ian Donnis

"Raimondo is desperate to get her wealthy, maxed-out, out-of-state donors to give $10,000 party building donations to the Providence Democratic Party so she can then influence the Providence Democratic Party to spend it in a way which will benefit her re-election," said Brandon Bell, chairman of the state Republican Party, in an emailed statement.

"When your approval rating keeps sliding, you’ll do anything to try and win, including trying to circumvent the law.”

Earlier this month, the RI GOP filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission over the same agreement. Raimondo's deputy campaign manager, David Ortiz, called the complaint "frivolous."

"Once again, the Republicans have filed a frivolous complaint in a cynical attempt to distract voters from their failed leadership and deeply unpopular positions on issues that matter to Rhode Islanders," Ortiz told RIPR's Ian Donnis. "Under this nutty argument, the Republican Party of Rhode Island is failing to comply with the same bogus rule they are claiming the Democrats are violating."

A previous complaint to the Rhode Island Ethics Commission was dismissed last month. In that complaint, Bell raised questions about the relationship between Patrick Ward, who previously chaired the Providence Democratic City Committee, and Gov. Raimondo.

Bell argued that because Ward works for the state Department of Human Services, he is a subordinate to Raimondo, making the fundraising agreement between Ward and Raimondo a violation of state ethics guidelines.

In dismissing the complaint, the Ethics Commission ruled that Ward "is an employee of DHS, rather than an employee of the Office of the Governor. Here, Regulation 5011(c)'s definition of subordinate would not extend to all employees or all agencies within the entire executive branch of government."

Raimondo's campaign has maintained that the fundraising deal falls within the limits of campaign finance laws and is common in politics.